If you are wondering how to take pictures to improve your online sales but have no photography background, look no further and check out my photography tips below.
I have been selling online since 2001 and have learned quite a lot about how to take pictures of products so that customers can see the detail and not be disappointed when they receive the item.
I often get compliments on my product photography and comments about how detailed and professional they look.
I decided to write this blog post as a sort of “Photography for Dummies” and share how to take pictures so that others can learn my process and get excellent pictures without being a professional photographer.
How to take pictures for Etsy, Ebay, etc.
When I began selling online I would take a picture on a textured surface but I have since learned how to give it that photo studio look using a white background, and I have been re-shooting everything. You can check out some of my new photos in my Etsy Shop.
I have read many blog posts on photography, and most of them go way deep into stuff I didn’t want to know. They suggest special light boxes, lighting and other fancy gear. That wasn’t for me.
I have NEVER read my camera manual and do not know any of the technical stuff about light, shutter speed, blah, blah, blah…. but I DO know that natural lighting is THE best way to photograph beads, jewelry or just about anything.
Check out my photo studio below.
Photo studio set up
My photo studio set up is in my driveway!! I always try to take advantage of the natural light outdoors. I currently use an orange storage box with a piece of tile on top to make it a flat surface, and a piece of white paper is covering the tile (see photo below).
Many items that are seen online have a white background or something really light. Ebay encourages a clean white background and Amazon requires it. In fact Amazon even patented their technique. Maybe I should patent mine!! No seriously, my process is simple and is not patented!!
The beach towel is there to keep me from getting dirty, and the concrete is really not friendly on the knees so the towel helps 🙂
This set up is portable, keeps me flexible (having to get up and down), and was totally FREE since I already had these items. No expensive light-box, lights or other fancy equipment.
Indoor pictures need special lighting or they might turn out yellowish, have reflections of the surrounding items, flash or annoying shadows.
I take nearly all of my pictures outdoors on a cloudy or overcast day, sometimes I get good shots first thing in the morning before the sun comes out, but many times that is too blue. Light cloud cover is the best.
I have an Olympus C-4000 Zoom, 4.0 Megapixel, Optical 3x Zoom/Seamless Zoom 10x Optical x Digital. Not sure what all that means, but the optical zoom gets super close and super resolution! When I download the pictures onto my computer I can then zoom further with Photoshop.
Let me repeat my previous statement above:
I have NEVER read my camera manual and do not know any of the technical stuff about light, shutter speed, etc.
I only read the quick start guide and I have never had a photography class.
When I bought my camera it was set to take pictures on a really large format (like a poster), and I have never changed anything. This way I can have a really large picture with high-resolution at then resize it as I choose.
I spent about $500.00 on this camera and have had it for over 10 years. So today you can probably get an even better camera for less money. In fact many of the smart phone cameras are pretty good!
Photo editing is a very important part for me. I have Photoshop, which was quite expensive when I bought it, but all photo editing programs have some sort of brightness and color features to edit photos.
This is what I do for pics that are a little too gray or blue. In Photoshop I use the levels tool to set the white point which will adjust the picture.
To set the white levels in Photoshop you select: image>adjustments>levels and then you will see the setting box like above. The eye dropper on the far right is for white.
Select the dropper for white and then touch the area of your photo that should be white. See what a difference that makes??
You can then clean up any dust or particles surrounding the item with the paint brush. Crop your photo and then make it any size you need!
I hope this information on how to take pictures has helped simplfy things for those who want to keep it simple. Happy Photographing!!
Last year I thought just having a mobile configuration for my website was great, but now I understand why it’s important to have a Responsive Website Design. Nearly half of all web traffic is done on a mobile device, that’s huge!
People search and browse on mobile devices for information, products, and of course hang out on social media where a lot of businesses advertise. Think about your own browsing habits…..
The number of people using a mobile device increases every year, so having a website that automatically adjusts to the device it is viewed on is really important.
How many times have you gone to a website on your iPhone and it was so small that you just clicked out of it and continued to search for something you could actually see?
A perfect example of why a responsive website is necessary
Mom is sitting in the bus loop waiting to pick her kids up from school and is using her cell phone to search for items on her gift list, or maybe she is planning a vacation, party, etc. She may not be purchasing anything yet, but if she finds what she wants she may go back later to make the purchase on her desktop computer.
As a small business struggling for every sale, I want to be sure that my website is found in her search, along with the big guys, and that my website is easy for her to see.
In case you don’t know
Google will give preference in search to those websites that are mobile-friendly, effective 4/21/2015. The only reason I know this is because I received a newsletter from my web hosting company with information about this important announcement and offering solutions to those of us with Shopsite shopping cart software.
Shopsite has several different templates that are responsive so I picked one and made the switch. I WAS NERVOUS, I sat there with my finger on the “publish” button for quite some time, fearful that my years of work would be destroyed if I changed anything.
Then I took the plunge, it was now or never! Fortunately LexiConn, my web hosting company, is great to work with and very helpful, so within a couple of days I had all the kinks worked out.
Today there are so many ways to make your own website and establish an online presence, below are 11 tips to consider before starting this type of project.
Many years ago I opened an online business on Ebay and eventually I needed a website, too. I am now on my 3rd website, and through the years these 11 tips have been the most important.
1. Should you hire a Web designer? While you need someone to help with all the technical mumbo jumbo and programming, many times you are better off doing it yourself. My experience with Web Designers has not been good and I ended up doing a lot myself. Today there are many companies that offer websites with templates built right in, including shopping cart software, and ways to accept payment. While these seem OK and a quick way to get started, be cautious about building your website on a platform where you might not have control or be able to move it should you need to change hosting companies. Make sure you can add “plugins” for different functions such as blogs, social media, etc.
2. Domain names and hosting: Match your domain name with your company brand name, if possible. Most hosting companies can help with your domain name registration, but be sure to have a hosting company that has real people available so you can call and talk to someone if you need help. When choosing a hosting company for your website, make sure they are knowledgeable about the software you are using. This is essential if something goes wrong or you mess something up on your website.
3. Branding: Everyone has something to say about branding these days, but to keep it simple just use the same colors, logos, and design in all other areas like social media, marketing materials, correspondence, etc. This way customers are used to seeing the same designs and will know it’s YOU!
4. Website design: Decide what image you want to portray to the world, what kind of customers do you want, what do you want the customer to feel when they see your website? Do you want them to read or buy? Designs can be changed but it is a good idea to think of this ahead of time.
5. HTML & CSS: A lot of websites today come with built-in templates and text editors but it’s useful to know and be familiar with a little basic information like how to make bold type, how to make something italic, etc. Many times text editors get all jumbled up with different things and it is helpful if you know enough about the code to clean it up.
Basic html examples:
<p> causes a line break and adds a trailing blank line for paragraphs, to end a paragraph use this at the end </p>
<br> causes a line break with no trailing blank line if you just want to bring something down one line
This is a <b>boldface</b> tag, this is how boldface appears
This is an <i>italic</i> tag, this is how italic appears
6. Photos: Invest in a good camera and photo editing program, it really makes a difference to have good quality photos to draw in your customers and keep them clicking. Read up on how to take good pictures, there are tons of good articles available online about photography. DO NOT right-click and steal photos from Google images or other websites! If you sell products and use manufacturer photos, make sure you have permission to use their images.
7. Image names: If you are selling products and you have a LOT, be sure to start using a good image naming system so that you can find the pictures both on your computer and in your website back-end. I use the product SKU and a short keyword or two since many people can find your items through image ALT tag attributes.
8. Organize products: Do an outline or spreadsheet to help you organize products and use that as a guide when setting up categories on a website. Well organized categories will make it easy for customers to find the products they are looking for.
9. Product descriptions: This is kind of tricky because most online shoppers don’t want to read a lot of text, but Google and search engines are looking for good content, so descriptions should be short and concise but have enough information for search engines.
10. Security: Make sure your site is secure from hackers and that your customer’s information is secure, check with your hosting company to see what they suggest.
11. Marketing: This is a huge subject, but briefly here are some ways to market your products and website.
Upload products to Google Shopping, and set up a budget
Have a presence in Social Media such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, etc.
Collect customer emails for newsletters and special sales
Start a Blog
Network in online groups in your industry
Every topic I listed could be an entire blog post in itself, but hopefully this overview will help anyone who is considering starting to build their own website. Leave a comment and let me know what you think!
I changed my hosting to a company that is a Shopsite expert and upgraded the software to the most current version. This fixed a lot of things that the original ad agency who set up my website did not do correctly, and also made it possible for a few other important things:
Mobile browsing with a simple mobile checkout
Move blog from Blogspot to Word Press and link to website
Insert products into Google Shopping
All of the above improvements have increased the orders on my website from like one or two a month to nearly one a day! I am slowly inserting more and more products, so I expect that number to increase over the next year!
Set up at local craft fairs
My opinion hasn’t changed on this, no sense in using my energy to set up tables under the hot Central Florida sun or in a tent so that people can look at my beaded jewelry and say “Oh how pretty, I can make that!”
Put it on Ebay
I made all the changes Ebay wanted last year, and now again this year there are more changes, although not as drastic.
I have decided that the “Variations” option is only good if your product is selling, otherwise the item just sinks lower and lower in search.
I changed many of my titles for the Cassini search engine and I do think that helped somewhat. Even though I don’t spend much time working on the Bead Lovers Korner Ebay Store, Ebay has a lot of traffic and somehow I manage to have a good volume of sales.
List on Etsy
Not much has changed here, I keep a lot of popular items there as well as new handmade creations.
The great things about Etsy are the teams and the awesome tips and ideas they give to you to help you be successful, not to mention the fact that the fees are lower.
I officially quit giving Facebook any advertising money at the end of last year. I did not see much of a return from the money I spent with them in recent years. I do keep my Bead Lovers Korner facebook page updated, but I am not wasting any more money on advertising there.
Even though I am no longer advertising for likes, etc. I still keep getting new fans, and it is weird because a lot of them are from foreign countries and I can’t even read their names!!
In closing, lots of work on updating and building my own website and blog has proven to be the most beneficial this past year.
Leave a comment and tell us what has helped your online sales!